Susan B. Anthony was a revolution and still is even in the modern world today. This is for good reason as well. Susan B. Anthony was a prominent and important civil rights leader during the women’s suffrage act in the 1800’s. Susan started off working against slavery and encountered another disastrous problem: gender inequality. Coming from a family of eight, Anthony was brought up to be outspoken and to never back down on one’s own thoughts. When Anthony was denied speaking in a prestigious Temperance Hall about anti-slavery because she was a women, Anthony’s rage sparked, causing her to help the millions of women who were put down every day. From then on, Anthony fought for women’s freedom, women’s rights, women’s equality, and women’s right to vote. Her contribution to the society now is invaluable and immeasurable. An important contribution of Anthony was the writings she used to write about her views. Back then, there were many literature pieces written condescendingly about women. A famous example of this is the epic poem, The Odyssey by Homer. This poem is still written today and the ”Siren Song” is an excerpt highlighted because of the gender inequality it portrayed. In response to Homer, Margaret Atwood a brilliant feminist writer rewrites the “Siren Song” from the Sirens point of view. Atwood changes the perspective and tone of Homer’s tale in an attempt to remove the socially constructed, demeaning gender roles.
Homer’s blithely satisfied and content tone towards men and his piteously disdainful tone towards women creates a degrading gender role towards women. While voyaging near the island where the mythical Sirens stay, Homer describes the men as, “strong” and “steadfast” (Homer 5, 27). When one hears the word strong and steadfast, he or she automatically thinks of a person in a good position, someone who is doing well in his or her life. Homer feels that this only applies to men and those women do not have the right or the privilege to lead a life where the women have the upper hand. Women are always supposed to be inferior and that they should never exhibit signs of strength. When Odysseus’s crew first comes face to face with the Sirens, Homer describes them as having a “high, thrilling song” with “honeyed voices” and “sending out their ravishing voices” (Homer 14, 16, 18). The adjectives and the phrases Homer uses when talking about women clearly show that he doesn’t show any value to them. They aren’t worth anything and merely are on the world to pleasure the men. Words like “honeyed” and “ravished” mean desire and make the reader feel that women are ensnaring and capturing. By using action and active verbs like the aforementioned, Homer creates a degrading instance towards all women. His views are shown through his tone in the story.
Margaret Atwood’s petulantly patronizing tone towards men and her blatantly vivacious tone towards women shows that she holds women in a higher respect than Homer. By changing the point of view in her revision of the “Siren Song” Atwood examines a side of the story that has never been explored before. Atwood, throughout the song, shows men in a negative light. For example, Atwood states that “men leap overboard in squadrons though they see the beached skull” (Atwood 5). Here, the Siren is explaining how the men can never resist her song though the sight of death is present as there are skulls and human remains on the islands where the Sirens are located. This implies that men are not smart, and that they fade in comparison to the woman’s mind. That sentence in itself makes the man look very stupid and dumb. Atwood also explains a point, “You looking at me squatting, looking picturesque and mythical,” (Atwood 15). This quote shows that men see a woman as a trophy. She is trying to say that all men think is that women take from them as women are inferior to them which can be seen from the use of the word “squatting.” Atwood again delves into the mind of the Siren into how she feels being a Siren. “It is a cry for help” and “I don’t enjoy it here” (Atwood 13, 22) are quotes that reflect on the Siren’s feelings. Atwood successfully causes the reader to feel pathos and being rueful towards women. Here, Atwood characterizes the Sirens as mendacious.
In the aforementioned, the reader has experienced both sides of the same excerpt of an epic poem. By changing the point of view and the tone towards gender roles, the reader has experienced sides of stories never explore before. In The Odyssey, because of the obvious bias in characterization, one can’t help but feel favorite towards the men. However at the same time, in “Siren Song” by Margaret Atwood, the obvious bias in characterization is put on women now. Basically, the point that has been successfully proven is that Atwood broke down socially constructed gender roles by changing the tone and perspective of the “Siren Song.” Back then and nowadays too in some areas, men still act superior towards women and Atwood’s poem is one example that this need not be true. In times nowadays too, there are areas in the world where women are mistreated and are allowed to be raped and beaten. In a way, Atwood is saying that this is wrong and bringing about the justice of gender equality.
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